Additive manufacturing and 3D printing continue to prove the most disruptive technologies in the modern age, revolutionizing industries. Statistics show the global market will be worth approximately $37.2 billion by 2026. Polymer-based additive manufacturing is a contributing factor to the market’s overall growth.
. Polymer-based additive manufacturing has grown popular because of its low cost of production and immense flexibility. As a result, polymers have various applications, ranging from high-quality offerings to cheap substitutes for various products.
Additive manufacturing has been around for a while. It first burst on the scene in the 1980s and has grown from strength to strength. However, additive manufacturing become popular now because of technological advancements giving better dimensional control , quicker production time and lowering cost of machines. Additive manufacturing uses 3D modeling software to create sketches and add material layers to create a 3D-designed object.
Polymer-based additive manufacturing uses materials like polycarbonate, nylon, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), and , and high strength polymer like PEEK Poly Ether Ether Ketone and PEI Poly Emide
Here are the basic steps in polymer-based additive manufacturing. They include:
The first step in the polymer-based additive manufacturing process chain begins with creating a virtual model using CAD software. You’ll want to design the part or product you wish to produce. You can also use 3D scanning devices to create a virtual replica of an existing product you want to build and use reverse engineering to re create the CAD model from the scanned data. Once you’ve built the virtual CAD model, you’ll need to convert it into acceptable file formats so that it can be printed.
The machine will then process the model’s data. Machine preparation involves polymer heat processing, preheating the design space to ideal working temperatures, and calibrating the additive manufacturing equipment. It’s also a good idea to conduct quality checks to prevent errors before the printing begins. Machine preparation is an essential component of additive manufacturing, particularly when utilizing polymers, because it affects the accuracy and quality of the printed product.
Once machine preparation is done, it’s time for material processing. The additive manufacturing equipment will build objects in layers. It’ll incorporate various processing methods during the material processing phase, including heat processing to partially or fully melt the polymer using conventional or laser heating. Then, it’ll cool the printed product to ensure it retains shape.
Some additive manufacturing processes also use light processing for liquid photopolymers. Using these initiates a chemical reaction within the liquid photopolymers, causing them to solidify to create the product.
The post-processing phase is crucial in additive manufacturing. You’ll have to take care of freshly printed products before they can be used. Since polymer-based additive manufacturing processes use heat processes to form the product, you’ll need to allow the object time to cool down. Post-processing also involves mechanically separating supports, grinding, honing, and cutting. In addition, it also requires you to clean excess polymer from the machine and the product. You’ll also have to paint and polish the product to give it an impressive finishing touch.
Falcon Technologies International is a leading world-class manufacturer of professional optical data storage media and archival solutions provider. Falcon Technologies International has also become an additive manufacturing hub in the UAE, establishing itself as a leader in the oil and gas industry’s 3D printing, digital manufacturing, selective laser sintering, and medical 3D printing.